Have You Reserved Your Right to Refuse Service?

We reserve the right to refuse service. The sign’s message is clear and simple, but the truth is that a business can’t reserve a wholesale right to refuse service. As places of public accommodation, private businesses are subject to federal and state anti-discrimination laws. These statutes prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender and sex. Some also include sexual orientation. And others, well they outlaw even arbitrary discrimination. For example, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits all types of arbitrary discrimination. This includes biases based on physical attributes, political beliefs, and geographical origin. Courts also tend not to favor arbitrary discrimination. In the past, judges have used consumer protection, unfair business practice, and tort laws to punish such practices. None of this means that you absolutely cannot refuse to serve a customer. It simply means that you need a legitimate business reason to do so. You can usually refuse service in the following situations: When a customer is not properly dressed When a customer has been, or is being, disruptive When a customer harasses your employees or other customers When there are safety concerns When you know someone can’t, or won’t, pay When a customer is intoxicated or high When you need to protect another customer’s privacy It’s still essential to apply these criteria on a bias-neutral basis. Even the most compelling business reason can’t overcome obvious discrimination. So remember to use your right to refuse service wisely. Related Resources: Discrimination in Public Accommodations: Government Enforcement (FindLaw) NJ Bridal Store Refuses to Sell Lesbian a Dress (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Gay Marriage a Boon for Small Business (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise)

Have You Reserved Your Right to Refuse Service?

Twitter Follow

Follow us on

Contact Us

ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT:  This communication or portions thereof may be considered "advertising" as defined by Section 6157(c) of the California Business and Professions Code or within the jurisdiction in which you are viewing this.  Nothing in the discussion above is intended to be a representation or guarantee about the outcome of any legal proceeding in which you may be involved.  By providing the information above in this format, Michel & Associates is not soliciting you to hire it to handle a specific legal matter you may currently have or be anticipating commencing in the future.  Notwithstanding the discussion above, you should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content on this site without seeking appropriate legal advice regarding your particular circumstances from an attorney licensed to practice law.  This communication is informational only and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Michel & Associates.  Michel & Associates's attorneys are licensed to practice in California, Texas, and the District of Columbia.